Home > France Best Places to Visit
by Santorini Dave • September 10, 2019
Best cities in France
Best beaches in France
1. La Grande Plage (St. Jean de Luz)
2. Les Plages (Seignosse)
3. La Courtade (Hyères)
4. Plage Notre Dame (Capbreton)
5. Pampelonne (Saint Tropez)
6. Plage de Fossan (Menton)
Best vacation spots in France
Best wine regions in France
1. Loire Valley (Sauvignon and Chenin Blanc)
2. Burgundy (Pinot Noir, Chardonnay)
3. Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier)
4. Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc)
Best food areas or cities in France
1. Paris (Haute cuisine, Modern French)
2. Southwest France/Basque region (Piperade, Piment d’Espelette)
3. Nice (Ratatouille, Pissaladière, Socca)
4. Lyon (Quenelles, Andouillette)
5. Brittany (Crepes, Kouign Amman, Seafood and Oysters)
Best castles in France
1. Mont Saint Michel
2. Chateau de Chenonceau
4. Chateau de Chambord
Best small towns in France
3. Ars en Re
Best coastal towns in France
1. Saint Malo
2. La Rochelle
Best canals/rivers for boat tour in France
1. Gironde River
2. Canal du Midi
Best ski resorts in France
2. Val d’Isere
4. Serre Chevalier
The Best Places To Visit in France
1. Paris – The French capital has it all: world-class museums, stunning monuments, Michelin starred restaurants, and an indescribable charm that keeps visitors coming back. First-timers should explore the left bank, known for its classic architecture and the cafés made famous by Hemmingway. A younger, vibe dominates the right bank where trendy fashionistas populate the streets of the Marais or further north you can explore the various ethnic enclaves that give Paris an international flair.
2. Lyon – With its reputation as one of the gastronomic capitals of France and nearly 10% of the city on the UNESCO World Heritage list, Lyon has a lot to offer for such a small town. Explore its four historic districts which date back as far as 43BC or dine at one of it’s 1000+ plus restaurants, twenty of which have Michelin stars.
3. Strasbourg – Storybook town on the border of Germany, Strasbourg blends the best of both cultures. With its half-timbered houses and magnificent cathedral, it has one of the biggest medieval quarters in Europe. In summer you can visit the Parc de l’Orangerie but it’s better to go in December for its renowned Christmas market, one of France’s oldest and largest. Also be sure to try some of the local specialties like flammkuchen – a sort of pizza with crème fraiche, lardons and onions.
4. Marseille – Marseille is full of paradoxes: it’s the oldest city in France but cutting-edge architecture such as Zaha Hadid’s CMA CGM Tower and the MuCEM have given it a hip edge. Most know it for a gritty, city feel dominated by its massive Old Port, but Marseille is also home to national parks like the Calanques, a breathtaking stretch of limestone cliffs, as well as the Prado beaches. Impressive 19th-century buildings like the Palais Longchamp show off Marseille’s ritzier side, but if you head east from the Old Port, neighborhoods like La PLaine and Noailles will give you a sense of day-to-day life.
5. Bordeaux – Wine, nature, and a charming city are what make Bordeaux great for exploring the southwest. The Cité du Vin is a good starting point for beginners while aficionados can tour some of the best vineyards in the world. Nature lovers and beach goers will enjoy the Bassin d’Arcachon, biking through its extensive pine forests or strolling along the immense Dune du Plat.
6. Nice – More than just another pretty seaside town, Nice is a thriving cultural center with its numerous museums and world-famous Niçoise cuisine. Art lovers will appreciate the Musées Matisse, Chagall and d’Art Moderne while day-trippers can visit Saint Jean Cap Ferrat known for its historical monuments. Nice is also known for its pebble beaches, so if you prefer sandy beaches head west towards Antibes or even Villefranche which has soft shale.
7. Cannes – Known for its international film festival, this resort on the French riviera is a mix of picturesque strolls, luxury boutiques, and a vibrant nightlife. Walk along the Promenade de la Croisette for a stunning view of the bay, wander around the old quarter which was a former Roman settlement or check out the Allée des Étoiles, Cannes’ version of the Hollywood walk of fame.
8. Corsica – Rugged mountains meets laid-back beaches in this island gem. Corsica has a unique French-Italian feel and there is something for everyone: families will enjoy the great hiking and dramatic coastline, upscale travelers have a choice of posh hotels and private beaches in Calvi, while further south in Ajaccio you’ll find bars, restaurants, and nightlife.
9. Ile de Re – About 3 hours from Paris lies the beach, foodie, and cycling paradise of Ile de Re. With roughly 110km of bike paths, exploring the island takes you past charming villages, vineyards, salt marshes, and oyster shacks. Each town has its own feel, with the popular Saint-Martin-de-Ré offering the most hotel and dining options.
10. Toulouse – The “pink city” as it is known, boasts beautiful terra-cotta brick architecture, a bustling yet low-key vibe thanks to several universities, and a solid restaurant and shopping scene due to it being the headquarters of Airbus. Stroll along the Garonne River, explore quaint narrow streets, enjoy an aperitif on one of the city’s plazas or try the local specialty – cassoulet.
11. Saint Malo – This fortress on the sea is a popular destination for its beaches, crepes, and historic old city. Visitors can spend hours walking around the intra-muros or use Saint Malo as a base to explore nearby Mont Saint Michel. Neighboring towns like Dinard and Cancale are also worth a visit, as is a ferry to the Channel Islands.
12. Uzes – Uzès feels both historic and modern all at the same time with its beautiful Renaissance architecture, winding narrow alleys and growing number of cosmopolitan boutique hotels. Though many consider it a hidden gem in Southern France, its popularity has increased over the years thanks to a Michelin worthy restaurant scene and growing number of creatives moving in. Weekend visitors will enjoy market day at the Place aux Herbes or taking in architectural highlights such as the tower of Pisa like Tour Fenestrelle, part of the Uzès Cathedral.
13. Hyères – At the southern end of Provence, this peninsula and collection of islands has a little of everything: a 4th Century BC archeological site, scuba diving, hiking, biking and fabulous Mediterranean beaches. Foodies will enjoy the vineyards and farmers markets, including a lively night market at the port. Day-trippers can take shuttle boats to Porquerolles or Port-Cros islands, which are tranquil and car-free.
14. Loire Valley – Though the Loire is known for lavish castles, it’s worth exploring the vineyards and quaint villages too. Travel off the beaten path and you’ll discover a host of natural winemakers, goat’s cheese producers, and several of “les plus beaux villages de France” – an official designation of 150 or so of the prettiest towns in the country. A few gems on the list include Montrésor, Candes-Saint-Martin, and Apremont-sur-Allier; wine enthusiasts should head to Sancerre, Vouvray or Saumur Champigny.
15. Collioure – The Rousillon coast is a far cry from the glitz of the French Riviera, yet on the other side of the Mediterranean you’ll find an old fishing village that blends the pastel-colored buildings of Provence, mountain views and a medieval castle on the water, and Catalan influences from neighboring Spain. For those looking for a more laid-back alternative to the Cote d’Azur, Collioure is the answer.
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